Facebook and the latest moral panic

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facebookWAAA, Facebook, WAAA! Once again, we’ve got a social media-related moral panic going on, and once again, some people one might have expected to know better are falling for it. Ooh, waa, boohoo, social media is bad for our mental health, crawling with scammers, sex traffickers, conspiraloons, and ‘misinformation.’

Sure, there are issues around Facebook and some of its content, but for the majority of its users it’s about pictures of your cats and your dinner, funny memes about other people’s cats and dinners and favourite old TV programmes, and an easy way of staying in touch with family members who live hundreds of miles away. For loads of independent artists, writers, crafters and small business people, it’s a fairly useful, free or low-cost method of advertising.

Moral panic around Facebook is exactly the same as every other moral panic, ever. Facebook is the most terrible, dangerous thing since every other terrible dangerous thing – it’s even pushing most of the same terrible-dangerous-thing buttons, like ‘sexualisation facebookof children’ and ‘consumerism’ and ‘making you want things you can’t have’. Things which are the subject of this sort of foaming, gibbering horror are invariably no worse than most other aspects of life and communication. So why all the whining and screaming this time?

Well, social media is also crawling with BLM and antifa, and climate change activists, and LGBTQ people, and we can’t have that. They’ve less reach, less money, less power, but they are out there, using social media, contacting each other and appealing to more people on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp (and Twitter), even when you’re not looking. WAAA, BAAAW, HELP, MAKE IT STOP! It would be so much better if the general public couldn’t talk to one another, wouldn’t it? The world was a much nicer place before Facebook, when the vast majority of people got all their information on how to think from proper media, owned by wealthy white men, who wouldn’t dream of encouraging discrimination against minorities by peddling scary lies. Ordinary people can’t be allowed unsupervised communication with one another. It gives them Ideas. Better to frighten them back into passive obedience, really.

 

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